A chance Facebook post about Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro earlier yesterday took me to the entertainment venue last night, and I was delighted to meet entertainment legend and director/producer Richard Loring, who is the co-owner with Roland Seidel, who had owned Seidelberg wine estate.

A double story venue which previously housed Adega restaurant, next door to the 7-Eleven on Main Road Sea Point, will become a 200-seater ‘Supper Stage’ upstairs, with entry via Glengariff Road (the new striking red and white striped awning is a promise of great things to come).  Richard has redone the paving outside the entrance, and received permission to plant a garden on the pavement, to lift the tone of the neighbourhood.  Even 7-Eleven owner Elia Hadjidakis has promised Richard and Roland that this branch will become their flagship, to match the quality of the new entertainment venue.  Upstairs the massive space will sport Richard’s white piano, and some of the guests will see Robben Island from there. Upstairs too will be Richard’s Bar, which will be decorated with all Richard’s memorabilia spanning the past 50 years, the anniversary being celebrated later this year.  All the walls will be covered with wallpaper of Cape Town images, some of Adderley Street in black and white, and others in colour, such as of Bo-Kaap.  On Main Road a new red canopy with see-through ‘windows’ protected the Bistro deck downstairs from the strong southeaster wind.

Richard’s wife, former model Jeanette Stuart, is in Johannesburg, packing up their house there for the move to Cape Town.  Richard owned a house in Camps Bay for many years, but has now bought a house in Gordon’s Bay. In Johannesburg Richard ran the Sound Stage Theatre and dinner venue for 18 years, having put on 40 productions in this period. After selling the theatre he worked for the 1100-seater Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City as theatre show consultant before moving to Cape Town in November.

I asked how Richard and Roland had met.  ‘African Footprint’ promoter Wolfgang Bocksch introduced Richard to Roland about eight years ago, and they talked loosely then about doing a theatre in Paarl.  Nothing came of this, but Roland did make an African Footprint wine to be sold at the ‘African Footprint’ shows. After an illness, which necessitated the sale of Seidelberg to Fairview last year, Roland contacted Richard, and they rekindled their idea of a show, choosing Sea Point. Originally the idea was to get Adega to provide the food service, but increasingly Richard and Roland realised that they should be in control of this side of their business too, and appointed Chef Ulli Stamm.  Richard and Roland have developed the story for ‘Kaapse Stories from the Mother City’, with Basil Appollis writing the script for the show.  They are busy casting for the show, which will be specifically aimed at tourists, but also at locals.  The cost of the show and buffet dinner should be around R350.  The show will be a fun mix of dance, humour, pathos, and history, a celebration of what Cape Town is all about, Richard said. Richard sees their venture making a contribution to tourism, in informing tourists about the history of the Cape, in allowing the employment of about 40 staff members to run the operation, and the development of new local entertainment talent.  While we were chatting Richard was keeping an eye on his staff all the time, giving them feedback about do’s and don’ts.

Chef Ulli previously worked at Arnold’s, Papino’s in Hout Bay, and then owned Trattoria Maranello in Camps Bay.  Despite his German background, there are no German dishes in his extensive menu, instead being more focused on Mediterranean cuisine, and specially Italian.  The tables on the deck outside have grey tops, and the chairs are grey plastic.  There are no table cloths but there are material serviettes.  Each table has a red candle in a glass, a salt and pepper grinder, and Willowcreek decorated olive oil and balsamic vinegars jars were brought to the table. Cutlery is ordinary. Small self-baked seed loaf slices were brought to the table. The menu is introduced by Chef Ulli in English, French, and Italian, and he writes: “It has always been my passion to bring the real culinary traditions of the Mediterranean to my table and ‘Richard’s’ is my way of sharing this experience. We proudly use locally raised and organically grown ingredients wherever possible and make sure high quality imports are used wherever necessary. Our menu is designed to encourage you to sample many different items. My team and I are honoured to cook for you and look forward to seeing you again and again and…” . The rules of the house are also listed, children under three years generously eating for free, food tolerance information is welcomed, all dishes are prepared ‘al minuto‘ and can be ordered without chilli. All dishes come with a side of salad or vegetables, and a choice of starch.

Ten starters have a good price range from R26 (foccacia) – R79 (carpaccio of smoked salmon), typical Italian dishes including minestrone, calamari, bruschetta, and antipasto. Six salads range from R45 – R62 (Moroccan lamb), including Caprese and Greek salads. Sandwiches (around R50) and burgers (even a salmon one at R89) are available. Pasta dishes range from R58 (Capellini al salmone) to R89 (prawn risotto). Fish dishes include cod, queen and king prawns, and calamari.  I had a fish dish off the specials board, a kabeljou with plain white rice and the most heavenly caper cream sauce (R108).  Steaks range from R96 – R135, and chicken dishes cost R69 – R88. Thirteen pizza options, made from Eureka Mills stone ground flour, include two Flammkuchen choices, and range from R46 for margherita – R97 for a salmon pizza, ensuring that no one will go hungry at Richard’s. Dessert options are plentiful, and cost R34 – R 49, including a good Tiramisu (R37), gelato, cassata, and Créma Catalana.  Coffee is by Italian Makamba. There is a separate breakfast menu.

The winelist has about three brands per variety, the regions are specified but the vintages are not.  Bollinger Special Cuveé Brut costs R1500, and Moët & Chandon R850. Prosecco Tereza Rizzi (R38/R220) and Maximilian (R240), Krone Borealis (R35/R199), and Pongracz (R194) sparkling wines are offered.  Shiraz options are Excelsior Paddock (R34/R115), Annandale (R440), and Rickety Bridge (R169). Local wines made from Italian grapes Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Barbera, and Nebbiolo are on the winelist, as are imported Italian wines, including Brunello (a 2006 at R1350, and a 2004 at R3800).  A wide selection of commercial beers is also available.  I was spoilt by Chef Ulli with a small taste of Limonché, made by local Belgian Jochen Nickmans.

It’s early days for Richard’s Bistro, the menu perhaps being too extensive and unfocused, and the service needing finetuning.  When Richard is there, things will run more smoothly, but no manager seemed to be in charge.  The opening of the new theatre/dinner venue in May is an exciting new tourism attraction for Cape Town, and can be expected to be a slick show.

POSTSCRIPT 31/3: I returned to Richard’s Bistro for breakfast, and had a long chat with co-owner Roland Seidel.  Attractive murals have been added to the walls on the deck downstairs, giving a strong message of the music that will be performed upstairs from May onwards.  The Italian Eggs Benedict cost R47, and included spinach.

POSTSCRIPT 27/7: Chef Ulli Stamm has left Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro.

Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro, 229A corner Main and Glengariff Roads, Sea Point.  Tel (021) 434-6738 (Bistro)/(021) 434-4497 (Supper Stage from May). www.richardscapetown.co.za Twitter:@KaapseStories Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 1h00. Free wi-fi.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage